Enjoy seclusion with 31 pergola ideas that will add privacy and sophistication to your outdoor space

Use these beautiful pergola ideas to create the ultimate chic and functional focal point

Pergola ideas are so pretty. Here is a wooden pergola with vine leaves around it, festoon lights and colorful lanterns above it, a white tablecloth with plates on it and wooden chairs around it
(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Pergola ideas are beautiful ways to create a secluded sanctuary in your backyard, no matter what the size of your space or how good a gardener you are.

From warming features such as lights and heaters to natural touches like flowers and woven materials, we've rounded up many ways to turn a standard part of your outdoor space into a divine place to relax and lounge.

If you're looking for backyard privacy ideas that will create a focal point in yours, a pretty pergola could be the way to go for you.

Beautiful pergola ideas

Whether you're searching for privacy screen ideas or just want to try something different in your backyard, pergolas are worth a go, bringing sophistication and seclusion. 

1. Add shade next to a wall

Wood pergola extension surrounding pink garden walls, with cozy lounge set-up, and blue and yellow scatter pillows.

(Image credit: Photo: Jody Stewart)

You don't just have to use pergolas as standalone structures. Instead, why not try mounting your pergola to the side of your home?

If your abode boasts a gorgeous industrial design style, continue this underneath your pergola with furniture and accessories featuring raw materials, bold lines, and dark, neutral color schemes.

2. Glow it up with lanterns

Three white round tasseled lanterns with dark wooden planks and light green trees behind it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Maskot)

Pergola ideas offer the perfect structural space to hang up glowing lanterns, which will add a cozy, glowy atmosphere with soft lanterns.

For a romantic, bohemian vibe, add a pair of lanterns (we like this pair of ROSHWEY solar powered globe lanterns on Amazon for their pretty shadows) with blankets (we love the luxurious hand-carded merino throw from Banana Republic), which will elevate your evening plans without leaving your home. 

Snuggle up with your favorite person (or four-legged friend), and gaze up at twinkling stars with these above you.

3. Use it to zone your space

An outdoor decking space with a wooden pergola, a black dining set, a black lounge set underneath the pergola, black fencing, and trees around it

(Image credit: Trex)

Optimize the functionality of your outdoor space by using your pergola to divide the space into multiple activity zones. From outdoor dining spaces to yoga sanctuaries, the possibilities are endless. 

Experts at Trex say, "A pergola is ideal for instantly framing and defining a space. A relatively easy addition to any deck or yard, pergolas create the look and feel of an outdoor room while adding a distinct architectural element.

"Its main purpose is to provide shade, which makes it ideal for those working from home and wanting to catch rays while seeing their screen."

4. Add a sturdy pergola hat

Architectural gray pergola above patio area, with gray garden furniture lounge set-up, on a paved patio next to grass

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Protect paws and feet from the ‘walking on fire’ effects of the summer glare with a sturdy pergola hat (shade) that can provide property protection, plant support, and beauty to your patio.

Master gardener, Kate Russell, of The Daily Garden, and author of Stop Wasting Your Yard!, says, "‘Well-made pergolas with sturdy hats do more than simply look nice. They protect us and our patio furnishings and patio dining sets from the sun's summer glare, provide climbing materials for grapevines and many other plants, and reduce the heat sink effect."

5. Grow shade-bearing plants

A simple green lattice pergola surrounded by potted and trailing plants, in front of a cream cottage house

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

Incorporate beautiful nature into your pergola with fragranced climbing plants and trellis ideas that transform it into a living outdoor feature. 

Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, says, "A pergola over a nice garden path creates a great opportunity for growing shade-bearing plants. Honeysuckle is a favorite in the south when it comes to growing on a pergola. Grapevines grow well, as do passionflowers. Anything that grows along a vine, or is classified as a clinging plant, will grow well."

Just make sure that you place the pergola itself in a place that gets enough sunlight and rain, and match your choice of plants to the pergola environment you have available for planting.

6. Install ceiling panels to protect it from fallen debris

A modern pergola with retractable ceiling panels, over a patio area with plans and two brown sun loungers on it

(Image credit: Naken)

If you want to avoid a confetti of constant twig and leaf debris from raining on your pergola parade, consider adding a ‘ceiling’ to yours instead.

Grace Baena, interiors curator at Kaiyo, explains, "If you love the openness of a pergola but you don't want to have to worry about tree debris and weather damage, try installing glass panels on the top of the pergola."

This will protect your seating area underneath while still allowing you a full view of the sky above.

7. Try a striking awning

An alfresco dining set-up with fresh florals and mono scheme, reflected in striped black and white awning shade above.

(Image credit: Photo: Sarah Rider)

Refresh your outdoor living space with a stylish sunshade that adds a dimension of texture.

Samantha Steur, design expert at SunSetter says: "Awnings are a stylish and simple solution for homeowners who want to expand or enhance their pergola to create an oasis outdoors for relaxation, gathering, and entertaining."

They offer many advantages and benefits including greater outdoor enjoyment, weather, and UV protection, rain or shine.

You can purchase awnings from many retailers online, including a stripey green and cream awning from MCombo at Wayfair, which comes in two sizes, has been given five stars by happy customers, but be warned the installation charge is north of $500.

8. Float on air with a DIY pergola swing

A wooden pergola with hanging swing daybed and scatter cushions.

(Image credit: Adams All Natural Furniture)

Swing away your stresses with a happy-go-lucky, DIY ‘chair in the air’ that turns your pergola into a place for both for rest and play.

Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, explains, "A pergola swing is an incredible structure. Add some shelves on the sides, which you can then use as a table or planting station."

If you're not the most DIY savvy, you can always choose the best hanging chair and bring this into your pergola space instead.

9. Stay toasty with an outdoor heater

A night garden with pergola lit by festoon lighting, and outdoor heater.

(Image credit: KooPower)

To keep yourself pleasantly warm on cooler nights under your pergola, why not installing heater or fire pit ideas?

These can be installed in outdoor alfresco areas and will add a warm ambiance to the space, whether you're dining underneath your pergola or are sitting underneath it with drinks.

This is one of the best pergola ideas if you live in an area that tends to get cooler weather, or you like to enjoy your outdoor space year-round.

10. Increase the overall value of your home with a luxe pergola

Wild, rustic garden with black pergola, bench, and strewn fairy lights.

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

If you’re thinking about moving to pastures new, sprucing up your outside space is a must to add to the value of your home. 

Pergolas are one of the key outdoor decor trends that you can add to enhance the style of your space and to increase how attractive it is to prospective buyers. Channel your inner Selling Sunset and get building your own pergola ASAP.

11. Create an outdoor oasis with trending jewel-tones

Garden pergola with bright pink geraniums in hanging baskets, blue and white hanging paper lanterns, and seating with bright blue and green cushions.

(Image credit: Pelargonium for Europe)

One of the biggest design trends for the year is jewel-toned pieces, which are ideal for creating a sense of positivity and escapism in your pergola.  

For a bold statement and to bring the beauty of rare gemstones into your backyard, add bright tones of exterior paint in lustrous cobalt blues and uplifting fuchsia pinks can liven up uninspired furniture. 

You can always learn how to upcycle furniture and paint everything from table legs to your whole pergola in these shades. 

These striking colors are a stylish choice for anyone looking to draw attention to focal points within your garden.

12. Try a low-budget revamp with a DIY pergola

A raised white DIY pergola with rattan seats and tables and a black heater underneath, lanterns either side, and white decking underneath

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We’re always on the hunt for quick, simple, and cost-effective ways to revamp, refresh, and update backyards. This includes pergola ideas — meaning it's now or never that we learn how to build a pergola.

Save your dollars by cutting out the middleman, learning a new skill, and DIY-ing your own outdoor space. Who needs to shop for bargains when you can nail the look yourself?

13. Bring in the bubbles with a hot tub

A pergola with a terracotta hot tub, and elegant stone surrounding it, with a small wooden dining set in the corner

(Image credit: Redwood Stone)

If your garden is lucky enough to host one of the best hot tubs, why not create a weatherproof set up with a pergola overhead? Place your hot tub underneath your pergola, sheltering it from everything the elements have to throw at it and enjoy bubbling away all year round.

14. Create an outdoor dining area under a pergola

A beautiful indoor-outdoor pergola, with a 6-seater dining table and chairs, and lots of lit candles, twinkling fairy lights, and climbing plants, and a white door to the left

(Image credit: Neptune)

A pergola can be a great focal point in a backyard, as well as serving as the perfect place to focus your socializing, too. 

Add outdoor dining table ideas underneath yours, complete it with outdoor dining chairs, and hang lush lighting. By doing this, you can create an ambient place for feasting and entertaining all season long and beyond.

15. Take it from day to night

A pergola with white lanterns above it and a simple outdoor dining set with a white tablecloth, with candles and plants on top

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pergola ideas needn't be costly. As this picture shows, simply adding a white tablecloth to the table, adorning it with the best candles, and finishing with a cute plant take the pergola set-up from chilled out daytime vibes to evening chic.

16. Use bright colors to decorate

A bright, multi-colored wooden pergola, with multi-colored pillows, garden furniture, bunting, and a large wooden bench against the wooden fences

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

If you've gone for a super basic DIY pergola design as a more budget-friendly option, that's not to say that your pergola can't be the place to be for gorgeous backyard party ideas.

Brighten it up with bold outdoor cushions, and run pops of color from top to bottom using bunting, colored string lights, and more. 

17. Paint it blue

A Moroccan-inspired paved outdoor garden with a small blue pergola to the left with a woman and dog sat in it, plenty of garden furniture, and plants growing up the white fences

(Image credit: Fiona Walker-Arnott)

If blue skies are your thing, you can paint your pergola in this shade. By doing this, you can create a serene atmosphere in your backyard, even on gray days. Chalky blues are in favor this year, so why not try Glidden Essentials 'Innuendo' Exterior Satin Paint from The Home Depot which is a lovely versatile exterior paint in this fashionable shade.

18. Keep it cozy with a cover

An outdoor living space under gathered covered pergola, with fairy lights draped from the ceiling, an outdoor rug, black decking, and plenty of blankets and multi-colored cushions scattered around

(Image credit: @layered.home)

We love how the @layered.home has created a really cozy set up under a pergola with a gathered covering. Perfect to soften the look plus, that burnt orange is making us dream of sunsets for days. This has to be one of the most fun pergola ideas we've seen, and the geometric outdoor rugs really bring balance and intrigue. 

If you like the look of the one we've pictured above, try the black and ivory Isael Geometric Outdoor Rug from Wayfair which comes in three sizes and can be delivered within 24 hours.

19. Opt for a fixed, sturdy structure

A backyard with a dark wooden pergola with a glass roof, with a dark brown and white cushioned corner seat underneath it and a spiky green plant to the right of it

(Image credit: Getty Images / John Keeble)

Go deluxe with your pergola and invest in a design that has glass or metal roofing that you can open when it's bright and close when it's drizzly. 

A solid structure is ideal to divide your outdoor space too, creating an area for dining and better defining the rest of your yard.

20. Stretch out your deck

large wooden pergola covers wooden decking area, next to patch of grass

(Image credit: Made.com stock)

For a stylish deck idea that feels like a natural extension of your home, you'll want to invest in a solid pergola, likely custom-made, that stretches the length of your entire decked area. 

Mirror the construction with your furniture and you'll have one really sophisticated and functional backyard space in no time.

21. Match your fence

A painted black pergola with a white dining set underneath, sat on a paved beige patio, with a black fence next to it


(Image credit: @nest_number_9)

Chances are, whether you buy a fully formed pergola or a DIY pergola kit, it will arrive as unfinished bare wood.

While you can leave it as is and it will still look lovely, you can also paint it to match your fence and other hard landscaping for a refined and cohesive finish. 

We love how @nest_number_9 has painted her pergola black to make it more of a feature in her garden. 

22. Square the top frame for interest

Square top white pergola adds elegance to outdoor room with large brick fireplace, brick floor and stunning blue outdoor furniture

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're all about mixing up our pergola styles, and we love the look of a square top frame. 

The modern structure and chic white finish bring the look of this outdoor space together really nicely. 

As well as this, we love how it's complemented with an outdoor fireplace idea and plush furniture, which enhances the sleek look.

23. Create an outdoor lounging space under a pergola

Two beige fabric and wooden sun chairs under a driftwood pergola with a curtaon on the side of it, by the swimming pool in warm sunlight


(Image credit: Getty Images / MelanieMaya)

We love the boho feel of this outdoor setup; the layers of texture and neutral color palette look so luxe and give a real hotel feel. 

You could always take this look one step further by adding trendy outdoor lounge chairs, rugs, cushions, throws, and soft lighting.

24. Blend into the landscape with natural materials

An outdoor pergola in the evening lit by hanging lights, with a dining set and small white stools, with the table full of candles and flowers

(Image credit: Curiosa & Curiosa)

For a pergola idea that really blends into the backyard, opt for a roof made from natural materials. 

You can pick up reed screens from DIY stores and then simply secure them in between the beams of your pergola structure. 

25. Grow dazzlingplants up and around your pergola

Wisteria tree climbing up a wooden garden pergola

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of our favorite pergola ideas is getting plants growing up and around the structure.

Plant garden borders to disguise the base of the pergola, and mix in some climbers too that will grow up and over the beams. 

Not only will this look lovely, but this will provide natural shade from the sun, too. Pictured is wisteria, but please note that this plant can take many years from planting to bloom, and the success and speed will depend on the type of wisteria you plant, the conditions and care.

26. Add plenty of lighting to your pergola

Festoon lighting over a vine covered decking, with a dining set for six, and lots of lanterns on the floor with candles inside

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Lighting is key to creating a pergola space that feels cozy and inviting, even on chilly evenings. 

Combine a variety of garden lighting ideas, and drape around string lights, dot about some lanterns (the Lights4fun Candle Lanterns from Amazon have flickering bulbs and a handy six-hour timer), or even hang pendant lights from the beams.

27. Nod to rustic pergola vibes

A decked area with a pergola with vines and fairy lights intertwined into it, and planting all around, on the decking and growing up the pergola, with blue doors into the home

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

We love how simple and rustic this pergola is, with the light-colored natural decking and neutral colors of the exterior walls. 

The rustic looks makes the pergola area seem like an extension of the house too, adding an extra dining space attached to the kitchen.

28. Build yours against a brick wall

A white pergola with beige pillars, a light brick house next to it, dark brown benches, and a neatly trimmed green lawn


(Image credit: Getty Images / JamesBrey)

For more wind protection, a covered pergola built up against an external wall will create a really solid outdoor living space.

One of the easiest pergola ideas, the characterful brick wall combines with the quality finish of the pergola design. And, we'd like to sit there, too.

29. Add cover with natural landscaping materials

deck with black and wooden bench seat under a pergola, with potted plants dotted around

(Image credit: Carole King)

Benefitting from a backyard screening idea such as a covered pergola doesn't need to cost the earth. 

Instead, work with mother nature and opt for natural reed or even bamboo. Not only will they bring coastal vibes, but they will also add a little more privacy to your space too.

30. Try a contemporary black frame

a deck with a modern black minimalist pergola with hedges beyond, and a child's red and blue dining set underneath

(Image credit: Sandtex)

For a modern look, keep your pergola bold and simple. A plain black structure makes the perfect frame for an energetic space inside full of color, lighting and accessories. Such a setup is sure to make those summer days extra special.

31. Squeeze a pergola into a side return

A black pergola mounted onto the side of a white house with two door openings, black furniture underneath, and light brown decking underneath


(Image credit: Getty Images / Mathilde Receveur)

You don't need loads of outdoor space to add a pergola. For a small backyard idea, you can squeeze one into an unused side return. This will make it a natural extension of your home and provide a beautiful spot for respite when you need it.

FAQs

What's the best height for a pergola?

The dimensions of your pergola will depend on your personal requirements and preference, but generally the roof of a garden structure should be high enough to allow even your tallest friends to walk under it comfortably — think up to 2.5 meters. 

What style of pergola should I choose?

The varieties of pergolas are extensive but they generally fall into two main styles: traditional and modern. Unlike other aspects of choosing a pergola, the style comes mostly down to taste. If you have an out of town backyard you may prefer a traditional style. Or, if you live in a more urban area, then a sleek design might be more up your street and in-keeping with regional aesthetics.

Where should I place my backyard pergola?

According to Pergola Kits USA, popular areas to install a pergola include:

  • Over a driveway to protect your car
  • Over decking or patios
  • Outdoor kitchens, barbeques, and/or outdoor dining areas
  • Above a hot tub
  • Beside a pool
  • Over a garden path to frame it

There are so many pergola ideas to choose from that it can feel difficult to make a decision — but the most important things to focus on are sun protection, and relaxing or socializing outside. 

Once you've found your perfect one, you can carry on designing your backyard with easy to follow steps, and consider the backyard privacy mistakes to swerve.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.

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